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Ricky Stanicky Review

March 26, 2024 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Ricky Stanicky John Cena Image Credit: Ben King/Prime Video
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Ricky Stanicky Review  

I know this is controversial, but I love that so many movies are straight-to-streaming these days.

It really gives me a chance to catch up on outings that I might have skipped out on in theaters, and because there is less financial pressure to succeed, we are getting more movies released in this format. Instead of just getting canned, these movies are finding homes and an audience.

(Unless they are made by Warner Brothers, at which point they are just vaulted and used as a tax write-off, but OH WELL, I guess. I cancelled my Max subscription anyway)

Ricky Stanicky is a new movie on Amazon Prime starring John Cena in his continued quest to be one of the most sought after comedic actors of the 21st century. The story actually opens without Cena, as it focuses on Dean (Zac Efron), Wes (Jermaine Fowler), and JT (Andrew Santino); they are a trio of friends who accidentally set fire to a neighboring house one Halloween. To avoid getting caught, they leave behind an article of clothing with the name “Ricky Stanicky” scrawled in it.

(I also apologize in advance for any auto-corrects I miss, but my Mac is bound and determined to call this imaginary character Ricky Staticky)

As the three friends grow up, we get an animated opening credits montage of their blaming the fictional Stanicky for every wrong they commit. Fast forward to the present day, and the grown men are still using Ricky as an excuse to get out of things they don’t want to participate in. JT’s wife is having a baby shower as the movie opens, and Dean and JT use Stanicky to bail to Atlantic City to catch a concert.

In Atlantic City, they meet Rock Hard Rod (Cena), a low-rent entertainment act where he sings songs about masturbating. And during their outing, JT’s wife gives birth prematurely, causing the three friends to have to rush home.

The plot contrives from there, and the friends are placed in a position where they have to finally have their families meet the legendary Stanicky, so Dean gets the idea to hire Rock Hard Rod to play their friend. Rod flies into town, assumes the identity of Ricky, and then… well, crazy sitcom antics ensue.


+ John Cena may not be expanding his acting repertoire very much yet, but he’s certainly found a kind of role he excels at, and he plays the hell out of it. Comedic Scumbag With A Heart Of Gold, as it is. And it works because he’s so good at it, and it’s so against type of who he both is and portrayed as his wrestling character for so many years.

Cena is the star of Ricky Stanicky. Almost all of the jokes flow through him, and he delivers them like he was born to. It’s a huge boon to us as a society that he decided to become a more comedic actor rather than just another Rock-esque action star (Peacemaker roles notwithstanding, though those roles are no less than action-comedy). Make no mistake, other actors across Ricky do their best and are also worthy of praise (particularly Jermaine Fowler and William H. Macy). But Cena makes it all work.

+ I’m not typically a fan of the Farrelly Brothers’ sense of humor. I don’t hate it, but I have hard time really getting into their comedies because they tend to be filled with gross-out jokes or obnoxious humor that is as unsubtle as humanly possible… neither of which work for me.

So I was surprised when this movie ended and I saw Peter Farrelly’s name attached, because I thought this was a hoot. There are definitely many jokes aimed at the lowest common denominator, sure (see for example: the whole bit about how William H Macy’s character delivers impassioned speeches), but by and large… nobody jerks off a bull or puts semen in their hair.

There is absolutely nothing to the story here that you have not seen before. This is Comedy 101, honestly. A group of duplicitous but likable protagonists find themselves in over their heads due to their own antics. Their plan to save themselves just digs the hole deeper. Then everything works out in the end in an unrealistic fashion. Lessons are learned. Everyone is happy. It’s incredibly basic stuff.

This maybe works a little less than usual because the happy ending is so direly tacked on. There’s simply no reason these characters would have the satisfactory resolution that they do. You’ve surely seen movies of this ilk and thought at the ending “There’s no way this should work out this cleanly”, and that’s exaggerated here. There is no reality where Zac Efron and his buddies are forgiven by their wives here. But the movie wants the clean finish, so they just… are. It’s an unbelievable ending.

There is an ongoing storyline throughout the movie of Zac Efron’s character viewing children as a nuisance, while his wife clearly yearns to have some of her own some day. I won’t say that this is ENTIRELY unresolved, because it pays off to a degree when we learn Efron’s backstory, but there’s no answer as to whether the pair ever decide to have kids or not. It’s a strange thread to leave dangling when it’s brought up at least three times or so.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Ricky Stanicky may not be breaking any new ground whatsoever -- certainly not in the plot, nor for Cena's role choices -- but the cast is pretty great, headed by the leader of the Cenation himself. The humor works pretty much across the board, ands while some of it is definitely crass, it's not of the gross-out variety, which is always nice. There's just enough soul to make the character development work, too. It's a great modern comedy.

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Ricky Stanicky, Rob Stewart